We have streamlined the little temporary workshop, and worked a lot of the kinks out of our current living and working conditions. I have now mixed and tested 10 of my glaze batches. This week I have added about 70 new pieces to my online store, and I am able to achieve about 75% of my usual glaze effects. The little propane kiln I bought from Clouds in Folsom in 1992 has been mostly for bisque and raku. It has needed several repairs to fire porcelain accurately, which GF explained for me at the time. I have affected those repairs now, and I have gotten absolutely delightful results.
There are a series of steps ahead to prepare for the excavation for the new workshop, then concrete and cinder blocks. We are considering a 16 by 26 foot building with a simple shed roof. I still have a steel frame to cut apart and several small and medium sized burned trees, needing removal. Then we will firm up our plans and meet with a backhoe operator.
My time in the temporary workshop continues to become more productive as I replace and repair more equipment. It is clear that the better my little shop performs, the sooner I will resume my profession full-time. I have included 2 lively videos about handle making below, illustrating a creative solution to space constraints. Don't forget to have a look at my online store too.
I have always pulled my handles for showpieces, like larger pitchers. A half gallon pitcher holds 4 pounds of water, and the inherent taper in a pulled handle provides a more comfortable balance as it is lifted, tipped, and poured.
With so many nuances, this timeless technique adds individuality to every piece, grand or humble. This procedure is also better suited to a tight space than the more modern tradition of extruded handles. Please see the other video I posted today, “My usual handle preparation device.” The musical accompaniment is “It Had to be You” and “My Melancholy Baby” by Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli.
I built this steel extruder in college in the early 1980’s, mostly for pressing contoured pipe for sculpture, but it works great for pottery handles too. Extruded handles have consistent diameters, and provide greater uniformity than the age-old techniques of pulled handles. While I am in this small temporary workshop, I am pulling all of my handles the elegant, old-fashioned way. Please see the other video I posted today, “Handles Pulled, a more elegant approach.” It is a skill worth mastering, and versatile for tight spaces.
In January we caught op on repairs and maintenance, starting with digging the clay mixer out of the snow. Our living quarters, a 2005 Tioga motorhome, had a variety of quirks in the plumbing, central heat, and a bewildering door latch, all of which we ironed out.
Since I was setting up my temporary workshop in my generator shed/pump house, it has been quite a challenge shoehorning in a pottery workshop, ensuring that the pottery and power equipment operate smoothly together. During this time I was repairing and rebuilding several components of the little temporary kiln I purchased from Clouds in Folsom in 1992. All of these efforts are visible in my new pottery output.
We had big challenges on our driveway from the firefight in August, then the ferocious atmospheric river and "Bomb Cyclone" in October. The vigorous preparation, then firefight left enormous piles of brush, while the driveway sustained lot of wear from the many trucks involved. When the incredible October rains came, the flooding left a lot of erosion. We had to distribute many cubic yards of gravel.
When the snow finally returned in late February, we were able to burn the brush piles left over from the firefight, along about 50% of the 1/2 mile driveway. If we get some more sustained snow and rain, we hope to finish the job this season.